CALIFORNIA The state required every public school to report any offense by a student involving sexual assault or sexual battery, regardless of whether it led to suspension or expulsion.The state defined those offenses broadly to include any forcible oral, anal or vaginal penetration, lewd behavior with someone 15 or younger, and unwanted intimate touching through or under clothes for arousal or gratification.It found they occurred anywhere students were left unsupervised: buses and bathrooms, hallways and locker rooms.
By mining those records, the AP was able to uncover about 17,000 official reports of student sex assault—an undercount due to the significant under-reporting and spotty categorization.
A state-by-state summary: ALABAMA The state education department received information from school districts and, in some years, schools on incidents of sexual battery by students, including actual or attempted penetration, fondling and child molestation, especially where the victim was unable to give consent.
For states with no education data, AP looked to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, a database of participating states' crime reports collected by the FBI.
AP used the two most recent publicly available years of NIBRS data—20.
Student-on-student sexual assault is not just a problem on college campuses.
It threatens thousands of kids a year in elementary, middle and high schools across America. AP journalists spent a year investigating sexual assaults in elementary and secondary schools.
California reported 4,630 such student offenses over the four-year period.
COLORADO The state education agency maintained no student sexual assault records over the four-year period; it began tracking incidents leading to suspension, expulsion or referrals to law enforcement only in the 2015-2016 academic year.
Education officials in a half-dozen states told AP they didn't think their data reflected the full extent of the problem.
In addition, some of the nation's largest school districts—including those with student enrollments over 100,000—reported no rapes or sexual assaults for multiple years, even though AP identified cases through public records or news accounts.
In response to AP's queries, the state will review "the nature and reliability of the school safety data we collect," education spokesman Charles Tack said.